Lucius Aelius Aurelius, born in A.D. 161, was the son of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. During his father's reign he was designated as the chosen successor. Our portrait most likely dates to the years just before his elevation to the status of joint-ruler in A.D. 177. Upon becoming Emperor in A.D. 180, he changed his name to Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus.
For a similar portrait in the Museo Capitolino, Rome see no. 241 in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture.